Jaipur

One of the most popular cities of India on the International Tourism map is the heritage city of Jaipur. It is the capital of Rajasthan, the state reminiscent of royalty and exuding a regal aura even in the modern times. Jaipur is also known as the ‘Pink City’ because Maharaja Man Singh II ordered his city painted a pretty pink in honour of the visiting Prince of Wales in 1876. The city abounds in heritage sites and provides a plethora of shopping opportunities.
City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Nahargarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Amber Fort, Sisodia Palace and Garden and Jal Mahal Palace are some fascinating monuments that offer a walk through time. Birla Temple, Govind Devji Temple, Jai Niwas Bagh, Ram Niwas Garden and zoo, Government Central Museum, Dolls Museum and Wonderland Amusement Park are other places of interest. A visit to Chokhi Dhani an ethnic village resort is a unique experience and takes one through the rich and vivid culture of the state including bullock cart rides, puppet shows, parrot fortune teller, Kalbeliya Dance, and not to forget the authentic Rajasthani culinary dishes.
Boating at Ramgarh Lake, hot air ballooning, sky diving and camel and elephant safaris are also some activities that can be experienced in Jaipur. The pink city is well connected by air, rail and road.
Best time to visit: October to March
Languages spoken: Dhundhari, Hindi, English
Climate: Hot and dry summers and a cold sometimes freezing winter.
Heritage Sites: City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Nahargarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Amber Fort, Sisodia Palace and Garden, Jal Mahal Palace
Fun places and Knowledge centres: Chokhi Dhani, Jai Niwas Bagh, Ram Niwas Garden and zoo, Government Central Museum, Dolls Museum, Wonderland Amusement Park
Holy places: Birla Temple, Govind Devji Temple
Activities and Adventure Tourism: Boating at Ramgarh Lake, hot air ballooning, sky diving, camel safari, elephant safari

Getting lost in Sambhar Lake

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On the way back, we drove the entire distance over lake only. Trying to absorb more of that dry-dusty frame. We also learned that ‘Jodha Akbar’ was shot here and apparently they created the entire war set here. Another movie, this time of junior Bacchan was shot in the main town. We dropped the Sambhar Salts gentleman back after thanking him for all his help and started back.

As we were driving back, I was thinking that how long the lake would remain like that. Probably 50 years down the line, this story would look like a legend. May be the area would get habituated, the land would be reclaimed to build SEZs and factories or may be the new Jaipur Airport. Who can imagine a 230 sq KM dry lake which is open for driving. You tell that to your grandkid and he would laugh it off. Go and look at it before it vanishes.

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आमेर दुर्ग : चल खुसरो घर आपने….

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राजस्थान पर्यटन विभाग की तरफ से यहाँ आपको सपेरे, शहनाई वादक और सारंगी वादक बजाने वाले, कई लोक कलाकार अपनी कला का प्रदर्शन करते भी मिल जायेंगे, हालांकि पहली नज़र में आपको ऐसा लग सकता है, कि यह सब पर्यटकों के मनोरंजन और उन्हें आकर्षित करने के लिये है, और इस से राजस्थान की संस्कृति झलकती है, लेकिन यदि आप जरा गौर से सोचें तो आपको इसके पीछे की सोच और मानसिकता पर हैरानी ही होगी | मेरी अपनी समझ से, इस सबका कुल मनोरथ यहाँ आने वाले उन यूरोपियन पर्यटकों के दिलों में बसी हिन्दुस्तान की उस छवि को पुख्ता भर करने से ज्यादा और कुछ नही है, जिसके वशीभूत वो आज भी हिन्दुस्तान को सपेरों, जादूगरों और मदारियों का देश ही समझते हैं, उनकी इन मान्यतायों और पूर्वाग्रहों को सच साबित करने के लिये ही, ऐसे कलाकार यहाँ बैठाये जाते हैं, जिनके साथ आप फोटो खिचँवा कर जब वापिस अपने देश पहुँचते हैं तो वहाँ के समाज को ऐसे चित्र दिखा कर साबित कर सकते हैं कि वास्तव में ही भारत आज भी उस दौर में ही है, जैसा कभी हमारे पूर्वज छोड़ कर आये थे ! इन सबके अलावा, इस दुर्ग में ही अलग-अलग दिशायों में खुलने वाले प्रवेश द्वारों में से त्रिपोलिया दरवाज़ा सबसे ज्यादा प्रसिद्ध है, क्यूंकि यहाँ से तीन जगहों के लिये रास्ता निकलता है, जिनमे से एक रास्ता आमेर शहर की तरफ भी है |

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Indolent weekend in the Charismatic Chokhi Dhani

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How can a Jaipur trip be concluded without some shopping? We grabbed a local cab (can be booked from the resort reception only) and requested him to get to a single good place where most of the things are available. Unlike many of the Indian tourist places, drivers and guides in Rajasthan are still unbiased and reliable. He took us to a factory outlet, where they produce staff at the two levels of basement and have three floors of retail and wholesale shop. Got a good bargain of various stuff there. Some of the materials are also available in the resort itself, but as you can imagine those are unreasonably costly and very small collections as compared to the outside outlets.

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चोखी-ढाणी, पुलिया और राम-राम सा का देस: जयपुर

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बात जब सड़क की हो रही है तो ट्रेफ्फिक और पुलिस की भी कर लें, यूँ लगता है जैसे जयपुर का सारा पुलिस अमला केवल परिवहन की व्यवस्था के लिए ही जिम्मेदार हो ! और ऐसे में यदि आपकी गाडी की नम्बर-प्लेट हरियाणा की है तो सावधान रहिये ! सीट-बेल्ट, मोबाइल पर बात करना, रेड लाइट पार कर जाना… भले ही आपके आस-पास से राजस्थान की अनेक गाड़ियाँ निकल जाएँ पर रोका केवल आपको ही जाएगा ! जयपुर में ऐसे बहुत से खट्टे-मीठे अनुभव हुए और कई बार तो ना चाहते हुए कुछ समझौते भी करने पड़े, एक तो पराया शहर, ऊपर से गाड़ी किसी और की… अपना शहर हो तो झेल भी लें पर यहाँ… समय की भी बंदिश है, परिवार भी साथ है, और इस कमज़ोर नस को हमारे भाई लोग भी बखूबी पहचानते हैं… एक बार तो थक हार कर एक हवलदार से तंज़ भी करना पड़ा, यूँ तो कहते हो ‘पधारो म्हारे देस’ और जब कोई सचमुच पधार ही जाये तो सारे मिलकर उसे लूटने में ही लग जाते हो…. बहरहाल ये बातें तो देश के हर हिस्से में हर किसी के साथ घटती ही रहती हैं, तो आइये अब आगे बढ़ते हैं…

चलिए ऐसा करते हैं, ज़रा शुरू से शुरुआत करते हैं, सोमेश एक छोटे भाई के अलावा एक बेहतरीन मेहमान नवाज़ भी निकला और साफ़ कह दिया कि बिना नाश्ते के नही जाना, दो-दो भाभियाँ हैं मिलकर बना लेंगी बाकी दिन भर आप जो मर्जी खाते रहना और फिर उसने हमे एक कागज़ पर घूमने की जगहों के अलावा उन सभी मशहूर जगहों और खान-पान के ठिकानों का पता भी दे दिया जो जयपुर में अपनी विशिष्टता रखते हैं ! इनमे से सबसे बेहतरीन था ‘स्टेचू सर्कल’ पर रात को क़ाफ़ी पीते हुये ‘हैंग आउट’ करना, जिसे आप जयपुर का मिनी इंडिया-गेट भी कह सकते हैं | सवाई जय सिंह का बुत लगा यह चौक स्थानीय तथा पर्यटकों के लिये एक प्रमुख आकर्षण का केंद्र है |

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विराट नगर – पांडव अज्ञातवास का साक्षी, बौद्ध साक्षात्कार का बीजक और एक झांकता मुग़ल कालीन झरोखा

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जयपुर से विराट नगर के लिए सुबह सात बजे वाली बस मैं बैठकर 9 बजे पहुँच गया। विराट नगर जाने का मेरा केवल एक ही उद्देश्य था और वो था बीजक की पहाड़ी पर बना हुआ करीब 2500 हज़ार साल पुराना बोद्ध स्तूप। यह एतिहासिक स्मारक विराट नगर बस स्टैंड से करीब ३ कि .मी की दूरी पर एक ऊंची पहाड़ी के ऊपर बने एक समतल धरातल पर स्थित है। इस पहाड़ी पर तीन समतल धरातल है। सबसे पहले वाले पर एक विशाल शिला प्राकृतिक रूप से विद्यमान है जिसका स्वरूप एक डायनासोर की तरह प्रतीत होता है।

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A trip to Mewar, Raj – Jaipur Once again

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painting section: Second floor of this magnificent museum consisted of some rare books on display and a series of Raagmala paintings on display.These paintings are based upon different Ragas and Raginis of Indian classical music system. Different types of Raagmala series have been painted in different parts. Pahari style, Deccan style, Rajputana style. Each Raga is personified by a specific color, mood , time of its singing is mentioned on the painting and a story is told about a Nayak and a Nayika. I had read about tese paintings but was seeing these for the first time. I also had the privilege to see the paintings based upon stories from Hitopdesha and Panchtantra.  Just beautiful. Another surprise for me was the the presence of classic book JANGNAMA by Shah Muhammad(original).

Overall we spent about 2 hours in the museum and were tired. The big walls of this museum are adorned by the life like portraits of erstwhile kings of Jaipur state. Now was the time to have some snacks for the evening and visit the famous zoo of Jaipur, if not so big then not too small also. Dear Pavani’s desire was to have a look at the lion and the tiger which was duly fulfilled here.

THE ZOO: The desire was of Pavani was duly fulfilled as the first cage in the zoo was that of Leopard and next to it lay the cage of Tiger (wish double fulfilled).

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A trip to Mewar, Raj – Pushkar and Jaipur

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A small and picterusque town famous for one and onky temple of Brahma Ji, the town is also famous for the foreigners coming to the time to learn Yoga and instrumental music in the streets of Pushkar and numerous cafes adorning the streets. I can vouch for only temple perhaps my main motive was that only so I did,nt bother to look out for the guests from abroad or cafes. After inquiring my way to the temple of Brahma Ji, I straight away drove in that direction until I reached the place where Ghats were located. I thought may be temple is located in the centre of the sarovar there. So we all went towards the Ghat area and the thing that I  wanted to avoid at all costs followed us , hounding by various priests(pandas to have one or other form of puja for salvation of soul. As a person I m dead against these things as it seems to me more as an economic activity of these priests, nothing more(my personal opinion). Many persons were involved there in one or other ceremonies per their beliefs. But I did,nt want to listen to these priests about all this. One priest said “Unless you take bath in these Ghats and perform a puja your visit to Brahma temple would be incomplete” Why so? I just asked myself. After enquiring again about the temple from a family , we came to know that it was just on the next end of the street. I just pulled my family members from there hearing this. While walking towards the temple, in one corner , there was a small shop(PANDIT JI KI LASSI). Iski story baad mein bataoonga.

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The Spell of Bundi, Rajasthan : Reaching Bundi

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Hence, our first stop was at at ‘Salim Paper’ at Sanganer. From what we had learnt, this would be a cottage industry like place where one could see paper making and block printing. So we reached after going circles in the village, and ultimately realising that the place was right at the beginning. If you tell them that you are from ‘Arya Niwas’, they take you through a guided tour of ‘Paper Making’. This was our first visit to a ‘Paper Making’ factory and it was an extremely educative experience. The place was large, expansive and had sections where different jobs took place. The lady took us through the entire process with a lot of patience. The first step is to make the pulp by mashing waste cloth-cuttings that they procure from all the factories around. So essentially the raw material was waste organics being recycled and that was heartening to know. The cloth is shredded to very tiny pieces that are kept submerged in water for a few days. After that the whole cloth-water solution is rolled over and over again to form a thick pulp. This pulp is then further rolled to form a smoother paste. Color and condiments like rose/marigold petals, leaves are added now. Then the paste is spread on metal sheets and left to dry in the sun. Each sheet individually! Hence the paper is born. The dried paper sheet is taken off the metal based and pressed through machines. And thereafter, different actions are taken to make use of this paper. So we saw techniques of cutting, printing, pasting and finishing.

To give the viewers an experience to take home, and of course as a model for this tour fee, they also have a small shop/display counter. The only way we could have reciprocated the gesture was to buy some stuff so we bought quite a lot. Most of that was exciting and relatable as we were purchasing exactly what we saw being made right then. All of it was for European and American markets and were indeed of supreme quality. So we made a good collection of fancy paper bags, craft kits, various kinds of papers etc. that my daughter is waiting to rob off her mother for her school projects.

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A Trip to Mewar – Jalandhar to Jaipur to Udaipur

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When I touched the Ajmer road on my way to Udaipur, I was just mesmerized by the highway. I had read a lot about this highway that this one is one of the best in India , on 31st of December I became witness to that. Till Udaipur I got four toll barriers on the way but it was worth. Normally I am slow traveler rarely peaking at 100 km/hour. but this highway tempted me. About 30 km before Ajmer there was a diversion towards left and I just took that following my gut feeling and I was on national highway 76 . I must mention here that on this way Chittorgarh and Bhilwara comes but remain on side so not quite a hurdle to travelers who want to reach Udaipur directly.

Kids were happy on this travel as we had experimented a long drive. Just before Chittorgarh felt hungry and stopped at a roadside dhaba offering garmagaram khana. A lot of trucks had been halting there bearing number plate mostly of Gujarat and Rajasthan. We had ordered saadi chapatis (tawe wali) and Karhi. The food was just delicious, to say. I had found in this trip that chapatis are brown in color not like Punjab where dhabas normally offer white chapatis indicating the use of maida instead of atta. After filling our tummies we proceeded further on our dream destination and it was at about 2.30 P. M we encountered a hoarding welcoming us to the city of lakes.

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A Glimpse Of Jaipur

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Upon entering the walled city, we were immediately accosted by each and every shopkeeper of each and every shop in the myriad bazaars within. This was annoying enough for us as Indians. It must be downright intimidating for the foreigners.

The shopkeepers aggressive sales pitch were a big put off. Having said that, I could see why Jaipur is called a shoppers paradise. Though most of the wares on offer were touristy tat, there was certainly a huge variety of some rather good tat as well. I succumbed and did not leave without my fair share of purchases though I would have bought a lot more had it not been such a nuisance having to bargain fiercely in every store. Initial prices quoted anywhere were at least 3 to 4 times higher than the final settled amount. The haggling became just too much of an effort and I decided not to buy anything more. The Jaipur traders are geared to sell to the foreign tourist though I doubt that most foreigners would pay such steep prices, they probably drive a much harder bargain than we do. One cannot even walk in peace without being constantly assailed by men beseeching you to enter their shops.

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Dancing Peacock at Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur

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Nahargarh Fort is perched on a hill overlooking the city of Jaipur. Best time to go there is early in the morning. It is a pleasant half hour drive from downtown city. There is a lush forest on both sides of the winding road. Drive slow to take in the greenery and sounds of the forest. People can be seen jogging and cycling. Birds chirp and peacocks give out their shrill cries when they see you approaching.

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